When it comes to belly dancing, your mind can easily get blown in wonderment as you try to stop your jaw from dropping at the sight of the seemingly effortless isolations performers do. She tops the graceful dance form with more elegance and charm, and if you are lucky enough to learn from her, you may as well fall in love with not just belly dancing, but with yourself. Sanjana Muthreja, celebrated belly dance trainer, owns Art of Belly Dance with Sanjana, and has trained the likes of Jacqueline Fernandez, Janhvi Kapoor, Khushali Kumar, Rakul Preet Singh, and Shanaya Kapoor.On a cheery afternoon, I was preparing for a Zoom interview, with not just a celebrated belly dance trainer who is shimmying her way through the stereotypical notions around belly dancebut also, a teacher I have learnt from.Muthreja joined the Zoom meeting, with her signature unostentatious vibe that she carries into the classes she teaches. The first question you always wish to ask a person who has come so far in their career as an artist, is how did they start? Somehow, stories like these help keep the embers of your goals burning with feistiness.Muthreja revealed she was back in college when she decided to learn a new dance form, which happened to be belly dance. First thing that I tried was belly dancing, and I actually fell in love with it. And since my very first class, I knew that I'm going to be continuing this maybe not as a teacher, but just as a part of my journey for the rest of my life. And I was lucky enough to choose this as a teaching career. Like my teacher gave me the opportunity and of course, my further training was done in Egypt, Muthreja shared.Many belly dancers go through the rather disappointing experience of first investing their heart and soul in learningand acinga dance form, and then being thrown a bunch of snarky comments from people still hoisting the flag of patriarchy in our society. Stigmatised to be a sexual dance form that aims to seduce, belly dance refuses to drown in the quicksand of regressive beliefs.Fixing her metaphorical crown, Muthreja refuses to be gaslit by unthinking conformists. So for me, belly dancing is purely an art form. If you look at belly dance, it's extremely graceful. In fact, for anyone who is belly dancing or learning belly dance, it's more of a form of meditation. It's a meditation for your mind, body and soul, she explains.She further adds that things are evolving gradually. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Muthreja has held annual shows (hopefully these will resume) for her students to showcase their talent. The happiness on their family's face to watch their wife or their daughter dance would be great. And it was not only a source of entertainment for them, but just to see her on stage showcasing her talent, her dance form, and they would look at it with a lot of respect, she says, as her eyes light up with hopeful gratification.Belly dance is a dance form that is graceful, a good source of happy hormones, and doesnt discriminate. You can be of any age, any race, any body type, any genderthere is nothing but inclusion and diversity here. So, when you think of someone brushing the stigmas and the stereotypical notions aside to follow their heart, you feel so inspired. Not just in a particular dance form, but if you can stand by your choices irrespective of what society thinks, theres a world full of possibilities awaiting you.Talking about how belly dancing can be liberating, Muthreja says, Anyone who is learning the dance form falls in love with herself. And because of the confidence, you start accepting yourself. You can be of any body type. You start loving, accepting yourself and watching yourself in front of the mirror and enjoying the dance form.In fact, she says belly dance brought mental peace and wellness to her students, especially under the crushing, psychological burden of a seemingly omnipresent pandemic lurking around for a couple of years now.With that, if you find something that helps you love yourself more, while you promote inclusion, diversity and gender parity, Id say hold on to it with a firm grip.